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Direct Response Marketing

Head of Household

4 Mar, 2010 By: Pat Cauley Response

“What we’ve seen is that they’re using more do-it-yourself tools and crafts like Cricut and Yudu,” says Sam Catanese, president and CEO of Broomall, Pa.-based Infomercial Monitoring System (IMS). “They don’t have as much money as they once did and everyone is staying at home and doing things themselves. Consumers reacted to these shows well; they’re fixing up the house and bonding with the kids.”

And this tendency for consumers to stay at home also bodes well for direct response marketers gaining a greater share of sales from television and online. While it may not match the revenue of the big-box retailers, direct-to-consumer housewares sales continue to surpass niche players, such as home furnishing and appliance stores. (see charts on right)

According to IMS, when looking at all new infomercials, housewares products gained market share, rising from 23 percent in 2008 to 26 percent in 2009. And while the health-and-fitness category reigned supreme on IMS’ list of new and top performing infomercials in 2009, it was closely followed by a fragmented group of housewares products including: home improvement, craft and hobby, cleaning and kitchen appliances.

When this fragmented group is combined into one category, as it was in a recent study by Jordan Whitney, a Southern California-based consulting and publishing company that monitors, ranks and critiques direct response television commercials, housewares represented 28 percent of the top infomercials in 2009, higher than any other category. When considering only the top short-form DRTV spots in 2009, housewares’ dominance increased to a whopping 38 percent.

“The housewares and fitness categories are always going to be two strong categories. The challenge is really going to be to find the pulse of what people really are going to spend their money on,” says George Sylva, a long-time DR director and producer who worked on mainstays like the Magic Bullet and Jack LaLanne Power Juicer. In the current economy, consumers are not only concerned with what they’re spending their money on but how much they’re spending as well.

Reynolds notes that home organization products did particularly well in 2009 and attributes the sales to slightly more accessible price points and good responses through the holiday season.

“In housewares, we’re going to be fine when they’re (marketers) giving such a perceived value to consumers,” says Clare Kogler, president of Jordan Whitney. She has seen lower-priced items selling particularly well.

“[Consumers] don’t really have the discretionary funds they used to have. They’re still willing to spend money on things that are going to make their lives easier, but it’s a tougher sell,” adds Sylva. When it comes to product selection, Sylva thinks marketers really have to scrutinize what it is that they’re offering.

“From steam mops, to juicers, to blenders to personal electronic crafting and silk screening machines — people are looking for ways to improve their life at home. People are spending more time at home, so they need more time efficient products that solve a problem,” says Patrick Raymond, CEO and creative director of Los Angeles-based Raymond Entertainment, which developed the successful Yudu campaign.

Now that you know what consumers are looking for, the next hurdle is getting your message in front of them in the right way. “As most marketers are aware, in this economic climate, it’s a booming time for direct response. But nothing seems to compare to the jaw dropping results of so many successful housewares campaigns currently on the air,” says Raymond.

But before diving into a new DR housewares campaign, perhaps it’s worthwhile to walk a mile in the shoes of the vets that have been down that road.

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